Today we celebrate the 19th Sunday in the season of the Ordinary Time of the Year. Our Gospel readings this year (Cycle B) normally come from the Gospel of Mark. We take the readings section by section, following the sequence given to us by Mark. Sunday after Sunday we have been hearing the story of our salvation from Mark’s perspective. But since Mark’s Gospel is the shortest of all four Gospels, we have a few weeks in the middle of the Season of Ordinary Time when we can take a break from Mark and turn our attention to John. That is what we are experiencing right now. For five weeks in the middle of our reading from Mark’s Gospel, we take some time to hear the great “Bread of Life” discourse from John’s Gospel (Chapter 6). Because of its length, it takes us five weeks to hear the entire discourse. This week, we are in the third week – right in the middle – with two more to follow.
Since John’s Gospel does not contain an account of the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper, the “Bread of Life” discourse is John’s primary treatment of the Eucharist. As we take our time to prayerfully listen to this discourse on the Eucharist, we have an opportunity to appreciate the tremendous gift that we have in the Eucharist. For us Catholics, our beliefs in the Eucharist are at the very center of our faith. We hold fast to the beliefs Jesus gave us from the beginning. For close to 2000 years now we have recognized his presence in the Eucharist and responded to his desire to be with us. This weekend we hear: “I am the bread of life. … I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” It is easy to take this gift for granted, especially since the Eucharist is so readily available to us. During these weeks, we are invited to appreciate a great and wonderful gift of God’s presence among us.
This Saturday, August 15th, is the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus. Normally this major Feast is a Holy Day of Obligation. But when the Feast falls on a Monday or on a Saturday, the Holy Day is still celebrated but without the obligation to attend Mass. Masses for this Holy Day without obligation will be celebrated at 7:00pm on Friday, August 14th and at 8:15am and 10:00am on Saturday, August 15th.
The Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary reminds us of something very basic to our faith: God calls us as whole persons with both a body and a soul. We sometimes make the mistake of saying that our duty is to “save our soul.” But what about the rest of our person? A human person is made up of both a body and a soul. The Feast of Mary’s Assumption celebrates our belief that her body, like that of Jesus’ is now in heaven. She didn’t just “save her soul.” God desires to redeem us completely, body and soul. Without this Feast, we might become too spiritual in our language and forget the truth that God calls us to himself as whole persons, not just souls.
Have you noticed of the flower gardens around the church, in the islands in our parking lot and around the rest of the parish campus? They are very beautiful this year. This is due in large part to Julee Woodman and the volunteers she has gathered in our “Patrons of the Vine” grounds-keeping group. They have cleaned up, reorganized and tended the flower gardens around the church and the parish campus. They are regularly here on Saturday mornings tending to the gardens of our parish campus. The Peace Garden on the south side of the church has taken on a whole new look! Take some time to walk through the Peace Garden and notice the beauty that is there. Thank you to Julee and all of the volunteers who work so hard to make our campus a place of beauty reflecting God’s goodness.
Thank you to all who have pledged to the 2015 Joliet Diocesan Catholic Ministries Annual Appeal. Our pledges support the work of the diocese, our larger church. Thank you to the 1052 households who have pledged and paid $125,721 towards our parish goal of $161,241. Your generosity is deeply appreciated. Please continue to make your monthly payments on your pledge. If you haven’t had a chance to respond to the 2015 Joliet Diocesan Catholic Ministries Annual Appeal, please do so as soon as possible. We are moving into the next phase of the Appeal. Follow-up letters from the Diocesan Development Office have been mailed to those who have pledged in past years, but have not responded this year. Again, thank you for your support of our larger diocesan church.
As is my custom on the second weekend in August, I am away this weekend in Indianapolis, IN for the 2015 Drum Corps International World Championships. I was introduced to DCI and the competitive drum and bugle corps activity while I was serving in my first parish. Drum corps is a very unique activity that combines music, art, and a healthy dose of competition. Many corps toured through our area this summer participating in contests in Lisle in June and DeKalb in July. The season culminates this weekend with the World Championships at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. From 1986 through 1998 I was able to travel with the Santa Clara (CA) Vanguard as a volunteer, driver, and chaplain. It was a wonderful opportunity. Even though I was not able to be part of the corps’ 2015 tour, it is good to be with them for the World Championships.
For many these are the final weeks of summer vacation before school resumes. Some of our college students are already returning to campus. We are moving into a time of transition. May God continue to bless us with all that we need, and more.
Father Jim Murphy